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Image for Neil Young, The Drones @ The Plenary, Melbourne (13/3/2013)

Neil Young, The Drones @ ThePlenary, Melbourne (13/3/2013)

Contrary to what you’ve read, Neil Young is still at the Plenary, jamming on an old Re-ac-tor obscurity with the long-suffering Crazy Horse – Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina and Frank “Poncho” Sampedro – by his side.

At times it felt this show would never end. After a relentless trilogy of guitar noise that’d even put the Swans to shame – ‘Ramada Inn’ from last year’s Psychedelic Pill, ‘Cinnamon Girl’ from 1970’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and ‘Cortez The Killer’ from 1975’s Zuma – Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s first Melbourne show became something of an endurance test. Just when you thought he’d end it, two hours after he’d started it, on the 15-minute mainstay ‘Cortez’, Young played two Zuma rarities, before upping the tempo for a 30-minute bracket of anti-establishment punk noise that made the nexus between Crazy Horse and opening act, Melbourne’s The Drones, crystal clear.

The Drones themselves were in blistering form. Just as Young never pandered to nostalgia or took requests, they refused to tone things down for an older, and somewhat unfamiliar crowd. The murderous stabs that closed out the ‘Minotaur’ were as ferocious as ever; they brought ‘I Don’t Ever Want To Change’ to a brutal close; while they continue to make Kev Carmody’s harrowing ‘River Of Tears’ their own. During ‘Shark Fin Blues’, I imagined Young side of stage, content in the knowledge that the Crazy Horse legacy would endure. The Drones are their true custodians, both in spirit and in their contempt for stringed instruments.

There was a real disconnect in the crowd, however – between those still clinging onto their copies of Harvest and After The Goldrush, and the diehards who actually read the part on the ticket that said “Crazy Horse”. Neil Young was in no mood for a Gold 104.3-endorsed trip down memory lane. He’s not Elton John. He doesn’t do medleys. When someone in the crowd shouted out for ‘Old Man’ he gave them the 16-minute ‘Ramada Inn’.

“Neil Young was in no mood for a Gold 104.3-endorsed trip down memory lane.”

Even when he emerged with an acoustic guitar and harmonica for ‘Heart Of Gold’, it wasn’t about inciting a crowd sing-along. It was about telling a story, his own story, and it segued perfectly into ‘Twisted Road’, his love letter to Dylan and Roy. Young continued it a cappella as he walked over to the piano for an unreleased track, ‘Singer Without A Song’. A young female singer emerged with a guitar case, looking lost and confused, before exiting side of stage without explanation. And that wasn’t even the most beguiling moment of the set. Scientists in white lab coats and workmen in high-vis vests would haphazardly appear (a nod, perhaps, to the hooded Jawas in the concert film Rust Never Sleeps) and an ornate pipe organ was wheeled out for hometown ode ‘Ontario’, but never played. Old concert snippets were interspersed with realtime footage in the five minutes of feedback that followed ‘Walk Like A Giant’, and a huge Woodstock flag folded down from above the stage – not to stir feelings of warm nostalgia – but to make the Baby Boomers in the crowd “think about how close we came”.

The jams were uncompromising and unrelenting, invariably centred on Young’s trusty Gibson Goldtop “Old Black” and a huge pedal board that did all manner of heinously loud things. Young would often pull Poncho (resplendent in a sleeveless Hendrix t-shirt) and Talbot in close as the intensity built, removing himself from the huddle just to step on a pedal or sing. But it all became a bit too much when ‘Sedan Delivery’ closed out the set after yet another jam that threatened to go on for eternity. They returned for an encore, Young’s trademark ‘Like A Hurricane’, but by then I was long gone. Broken, bruised and defeated by a 67-year-old man.

Setlist

Love and Only Love
Powderfinger
Born in Ontario
Walk Like a Giant
Hole in the Sky
Heart of Gold
Twisted Road
Singer Without a Song
Ramada Inn
Cinnamon Girl
Cortez the Killer
Dangerbird
Barstool Blues
Prisoners of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Opera Star
My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
Sedan Delivery

Encore:
Like a Hurricane

Comments

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Paul_Busch

Paul_Busch said on the 14th Mar, 2013

YOU LEFT BEFORE IT WAS OVER????? Some people...

d-ren

d-ren said on the 14th Mar, 2013

i take it you weren't at the gig paul...

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 14th Mar, 2013

That was a great review. Good to see Neil is still full of piss and vinegar.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 14th Mar, 2013

Yeah, pretty dumb you left before the encore. From what I've seen from the other setlists, he's been busting out some serious gold for each show.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 14th Mar, 2013

Great review.

I loved the line

Stugalug

Stugalug said on the 14th Mar, 2013

In hindsight, I should have attended. I love Bob Dylan.

d-ren

d-ren said on the 14th Mar, 2013

i always leave before encores mab. it's kinda my thing. i think they're contrived and annoying, plus i get sick of most gigs after about an hour, so to stay for 2 hours, 40 minutes is kind of a record for me.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 14th Mar, 2013



I normally get to 90 minutes before I get completely over things, but I'm totally with you on the time thing. There have been very few shows ever that I've been to that have been longer than an hour and a half and wouldn't have been better if they were shorter.

I do stay for encores but I completely agree that 99% of them are contrived.

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 14th Mar, 2013

Yeah I think the only band I could stand a 2 hour set from, let alone more, would be SFK. Even my other top favourite bands would be struggling to hold interest by then.

I only stay for encores if there's a big song I know, or am sure, is coming.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 14th Mar, 2013

You're going to bitch out at Springsteen for sure.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 14th Mar, 2013

Did you guys see Prince? Doesn't he play notoriously huge length shows?

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 14th Mar, 2013

I saw Prince. It was awesome.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 14th Mar, 2013

TBH I'd say unless it was someone from my GOAT list I'm pretty set with an hour and a half for a headline set.

Playing too long culprit numero uno - Foo Fighters.

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 14th Mar, 2013



yeah that's fair enough, pretty good chance he'll be playing 2.5-3 hours.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 14th Mar, 2013



I'm prepared for a long show for that one. At least he's renowned for doing it well.



It was pretty long but it was an excellent show. It wasn't crazy long though.

d-ren

d-ren said on the 14th Mar, 2013

i left early for prince too.

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 14th Mar, 2013

i might be wrong but from reading some of the posts on this thread i get the feeling that people still think that an "encore" is an extra part of the show. to me it's part of the show from the beginning. the waving goodbye and then coming back 2mins is just showmanship and i guess a bit of a tradition. i do think the whole act is a little outdated now and i have noticed artists doing it less and less.

loved it how Kanye and Arcade Fire broke their sets into "Acts" on their last tour.

on the length of shows? i could probably put up with 2.5hrs from 10-15 of my most favourite acts with 5+ albums. but otherwise yeah 100-120mins then GTFO.

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 14th Mar, 2013

Guess there aren't too many prog fans here, then.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 14th Mar, 2013

i might be wrong but from reading some of the posts on this thread i get the feeling that people still think that an "encore" is an extra part of the show. to me it's part of the show from the beginning. the waving goodbye and then coming back 2mins is just showmanship and i guess a bit of a tradition.


This is why it's contrived.

If everyone knows exactly what's happening, why even do it? If you want to have an intermission, do it, otherwise you should just play your set.

I'd prefer there to be no encores and then see one show every year where a band plays a completely unplanned encore in response to the crowd.

When you leave one of your biggest songs to play in your "encore", it's really not an encore in the true sense of the word.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 14th Mar, 2013

I think by 2017, Darren will be leaving gigs before the doors open.

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 14th Mar, 2013

i agree that it's contrived. i lapped up every moment of Radiohead's 2hr set last year except for the 3 times they pretended to leave. but a bulk of people at those large arena shows don't go to as many shows as people on this forum do. so they're not exposed to bands doing that as often as we are so probably find it less annoying and going by the amount noise at the start of "encores" they find it quite exciting.

i'm ok with bands just walking off unceremoniously without the whole "thank you you've been amazing" thing.

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 14th Mar, 2013

i think the only thing I've seen that was completely 100% spontaneous at a gig (in terms of a setlist) was Foals coming out and playing Hummer.

and that was awesome.

Lucan

Lucan said on the 14th Mar, 2013

Caught Graveyard Train last Friday. Eyed the on-stage setlist mid-show to see it resembled nothing like the show they were putting on. Songs played in different orders, songs being performed that weren't even listed, songs clearly listed but ditched, a planned encore that never happened, an encore performed that was truly spontaneous.

Grabbed the list at the end of the show and everytime I walk past it on the kitchen table I'm puzzled.

Good times, still.

doubtfulsounds

doubtfulsounds said on the 14th Mar, 2013

I saw NY two nights in a row last weekend and he was superb though I am a biased NY obsessive ber fan. The Plenary show sounds mind blowing with those extra songs so the news that it was filmed, most likely for a concert film is great.
I'm pretty sure I have never ever left a gig early that I've paid to see or been reviewing, from Nik Kershaw in '85 to Neil Young in '13. It feels like a cardinal sin regardless of how contrived or naff encores are.

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 15th Mar, 2013



That's so cool. You're so rad.

I've walked out on heaps of gigs, paid/reviewed/whatever - if the lead band is shit (it happens), then there's no reason to stick around.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 15th Mar, 2013

I walked out on M.I.A., but that's the most recent one I can think of - and that was in 2011.

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 15th Mar, 2013

Left before Bruce's encore last night, but only because my leg injury meant I couldn't stand or sit inside the centre any more. Plus, by that stage he'd been playing for 2 hours 40 minutes, no break, and I'd already seen him and Morello SLAY Ghost Of Tom Joad.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 15th Mar, 2013

Encore:

We Are Alive
Born to Run
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE!

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 15th Mar, 2013

three things:

1. The pain in my leg was so bad I nearly passed out a couple of times.
2. I saw Tom Joad and saw them nearly ruin Johnny 99, I'd had my fix.
3. Out of those songs the only one I would've loved to see is Dancing IN The Dark. I would've been more pissed if I'd missed Atlantic City.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 15th Mar, 2013

4. What happened to your leg?

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 15th Mar, 2013

I injured my ankle at personal training, and then went to the PUSA gig, and because I couldn't stop from moving, I put all the weight on my knee instead of ankle, and injured that too. Spent four days in bed trying to keep weight off it, still can't walk properly.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 15th Mar, 2013

That doesn't sound good. I'd get a physio to check it out.

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 15th Mar, 2013

yeah i will. I didn't see a doctor, because this has happened before , and they always say "keep it elevated, keep weight off it, and go see a physio once you can walk."

thought I'd skip straight to step 3 this time.

Stugalug

Stugalug said on the 15th Mar, 2013

I always leave before the encore, by doing so I have time to set up my bootleg shirt stall on the pavement out front.

BeShakey

BeShakey said on the 15th Mar, 2013

I saw NY two nights in a row last weekend and he was superb though I am a biased NY obsessive �ber fan. The Plenary show sounds mind blowing with those extra songs so the news that it was filmed, most likely for a concert film is great.
I'm pretty sure I have never ever left a gig early that I've paid to see or been reviewing, from Nik Kershaw in '85 to Neil Young in '13. It feels like a cardinal sin regardless of how contrived or naff encores are.

Neil Young's filmed every show he does since some time in the 80's. So unless there was something different about this time I wouldn't get too excited about it.

portrait_giver

portrait_giver said on the 18th Mar, 2013

last line of your review is epic. he was a beast at the adelaide show indeed. nice review.

hedonism gibbon

hedonism gibbon said on the 18th Mar, 2013



You must have missed George Clinton and Parliament funkadelic last week... 3 and a quarter hours that just got better and better and better, the atmosphere just kept rising all night (it helps having a 23-piece band at your disposal to keep changing things up obviously, and unlike rock/pop/punk, funk doesn't work as a 3-4 minute staple, you gotta let a groove grow) and i didn't even know half the songs..



i do generally agree with this (maybe 90% from what i go to, esp what you said about bands saving their biggest song for the "encore"... i prefer to be blown away in an encore by a song i had no idea would be played at all, and/or maybe an obscure cover)

did not expect GC to come back on for the encore, it was well after midnight for one thing (sydney venues very rarely kick-on after midnight) but they did (i guess he just needed a rest!), and no-one left, in fact, when they finally finished round five to one most of the crowd stuck around and sang "we got the funk" (which was played towards the end of the main set, as it should have been) for another five minutes solid with the house lights up.


for the record, if you REALLY dig the band and esp if you like to dance, no gig can be too long imo

i'd hate to review gigs, esp long ones, but a reviewer should be there for the start and stay to the very end or the review shouldn't be published, well written or not.

imagine a movie reviewer leaving because the film was too long then still going to print?

hedonism gibbon

hedonism gibbon said on the 18th Mar, 2013

Neil Young fans should be stoked he plays for so long, they might end up being part of the special crowd that actually gets to see him die mid-set!

Paul_Busch

Paul_Busch said on the 17th Apr, 2013

No I was not at that gig but I saw him two nights in a row....
if he played 4 hours I would be there.
Sure, I agree, the encore process is stupid....but saying you leave most gigs after an hour.....I wonder why you bother to review and write about them....as I said...some people...lol